The Maharashtra Food and Drug Administration (FDA) carried out investigations at the Bhakti Vedanta hospital, Mira Road, this month after the National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA) received complaints from patients regarding overpriced stents.
In its investigations, FDA officials found that three patients had approached the NPPA after undergoing angioplasty and getting the bills on February 13.
Bills retrieved showed the hospital charged Rs 60,000 for each stent. The patients subsequently complained to the NPPA on March 6.
The private hospital may, however, be let off in this case as the revised price list for stents was released on February 14, a day after the patient was billed.
“The NPPA had issued a clarification dated February 21 that stated implementation of price cap is effective for date of billing on or after February 14,” said Dr Harshdeep Kamble, commissioner at FDA, adding that the medical case reports and bills have been submitted to the NPPA for review.
A spokesperson of Bhakti Vedanta hospital said, “The hospital has complied with the revised price list. No patient has been overcharged for stents and manufacturers have also been told to provide fresh price lists.”
The NPPA last month slashed the prices of coronary stents by up to 85 per cent, capping them at Rs 7,260 for bare metal ones and Rs 29,600 for the drug eluting variety.
It also stated that hospitals charging patients beyond the permitted prices would be investigated on case-by-case basis. Stent companies will also be held accountable in cases where the maximum retail price was not changed and revised price lists not issued to hospitals.
In Mumbai, Lilavati and KEM hospital came under the NPPA scanner last month for allegedly over-charging patients. Across India, 37 hospitals are under probe of which five in Maharashtra. While the FDA has given a clean chit to Lilavati and KEM, the NPPA has ordered a 100 per cent audit of both the hospitals by state drug controllers.
The national regulator is taking steps to curb overpricing of medical devices and drugs by private hospitals across India.
Apart from stents, the state FDA is now probing private hospitals for overcharging patients for devices such as balloon, catheters and other surgical instruments used during heart surgeries. So far, five hospitals in Mumbai have been inspected and several across the state are set to undergo inspections.
“These inspections are based on certain complaints we received,” Kamble said, adding that a report would be prepared and submitted to the national regulator.